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Zet Raptor – Review

Zet are relatively new to the UK market but have gathered a loyal band of supporters. The Zet Raptor in particular has been getting quite a lot of attention since it was released.

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Zet are based in the Czech Republic and are a technical and design collaboration of the production engineer/kayak producer Zelezny, extreme kayaker Honza Lasko and the Czech whitewater slalom paddler Viktor Legat.

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Specification:

Length: 255cm
Width: 68cm
Volume: 303l
Weight Range: 65-120kg,
Kayak Weight: 19kg
Features:
4-year warranty
Minimum number of bolts and holes in the kayak
Unique foam holder
Light and functional seat made from a ‘hybrid material’
Stable hull
Original and progressive design

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On first look the Raptor looks quite basic, and although the outfitting isn’t as whizz bang as the offerings from Liquid Logic, Dagger et al it is both very easy to set up and it works. The plastic described as a “unique” foam holder in the blurb is part of the plastic that would normally be cut away when the cockpit is prepped, but Zet have used this to create a system that holds the front foam pillar in place without having to introduce any additional parts (and therefore weight). It’s a pretty good idea that works but it does look rather agricultural.

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The outfitting appears quite basic, but it is easy to set up and is comfortable. There is also little to go wrong. The hip pads a fixed in place using hook/loop and the backrest is adjusted via two ratchet straps located at the front of the cockpit.

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The backrest is one of the best I have used. It’s a great shape would a good balance of support and give. The seat itself is pretty comfy although it doesn’t look like it would be. Rather than being plastic the seat is made from closed cell foam that has a textured surface that helps your backside stay put. The fact it is foam also has the advantage of being nice and warm. Once set up the outfitting comfortable and allows you to get a good feel for how the boat is performing/acting. Therefore it does its job well. It is really important to try the outfitting out and spend some time with it rather than dismissing it as being too primitive.

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What is quite interesting is that Zet have opted for a system that minimises the number of holes that are drilled in the hull to fasten the outfitting in. The fact there are no holes around the cockpit area means that the chances of water getting into the boat via the bolt or via an imperfect spray deck/cockpit seal will be reduced. As far as I am aware only Jackson Kayak are using similar philosophy.

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Through the use of “Zelezny Technology” Zet have made the Raptor both strong and light. Plastic has been directed away from low risk areas of the kayak to those areas that are more prone to direct hits and harsh punishment. I have repaired a Zet that had suffered a fair old beating from running solo down a series of high grade rapids and it has faired pretty well considering the beating it received.

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Where the Raptor really stands out is in the design/shape of the hull. Zet have produced a big water boat that still retains high levels of maneuverability and forward speed. This probably explains why so many slalom paddlers are using Raptors when they are not in their composite slalom boats.

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Primary and secondary stability is good and even when charging on edge the Raptor feels relatively stable and is easy to roll. The Raptor likes big water and feels really nice when running whitewater and falls. The boat feels responsive and tracks well.

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Zet also have a couple of other boats that share a similar design to the Raptor. The Veloc is designed for smaller paddlers and the Directors for larger paddlers and big water. All have the same superb characteristics.

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In summary the Zet Raptor is a fast, stable, and comfortable creek boat that will easily fulfill the needs of a range of different paddlers from creekers to river runners. All in all the Zet seem to have the balance about right. Well worth checking out.

5 Comments

  1. 65-120kg is a HUGE weight range and presumably what the carrying capacity is, do you have any ideas what the actual sweet spot range is?

  2. If anyone is sellins a raptor, feel free to contact me. antonymitchell at hotmail dot com

  3. has anyone had problems with the feeling that your legs are being pushed down way to much. any ideas to resolve? i have been concidering grinding down the thigh braces to make them smaller but not sure? Im comfortable in most creek boats but in the raptor which does paddle great, i feel like my legs are being forced down way to much. This is especially uncomfortable when landing boofs. If i dont resolve i will sell the boat. I weight only 70kg and 5’8 tall so really didnt think the director would be boat for me but certainly cannot get raptor comfortable so far. I like the lightness and speed of the boat in comparison to competitor boats but there is no way i could put up with the pain of being in the raptor for long periods.

    • The seat in the raptor is made of closed cell foam – rather than carving up the existing seat, it may be worth carving a seat out of minifoam block? (£10 approx) You should be able to create a reasonable seat profile with a sureform and shaped sanding blocks – and you can experiment removing material from the underside of the seat until you get a good, comfortable fit. Other manufacturers sell seat pads, so you could dress it up a bit afterwards if it’s the right solution for you. Less drastic than irreversibly carving thigh braces! Good luck with the Zet.

  4. I Paddled one in Scotland recently and they are sweet boats

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